Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Break at Disney World - Day 5

December 30, 2011 - Today my daughter is working, but not at home or in her office at Team Disney, but is working the day in Animal Kingdom. When she first came down here on the College Program, she worked for 6 months in Animal Kingdom - at Conservation Station in Rafiki's Planet Watch (a name it took while she was working there). We haven't yet been to Animal Kingdom, so my wife and I decide to go there today. My daughter will text us when she knows where she will be assigned, and if possible we will try to see her.

It's another nice day, and we arrive at Animal Kingdom and, as always, head back towards Kilimanjaro Safaris and get a fastpass. There is about an hour until our window opens, so we decide to take the train back to Rafiki's Planet Watch and spend some time in Conservation Station, and Affection Section. While we head towards the train I get a text from my daughter that she is expecting to be assigned to Restaurantosaurus. We get on the train and head back, past the animals' nighttime enclosures to the train station for Rafiki's Planet Watch. In Conservation Station a surgical procedure is being performed on one of the animals. I watch for a while and then move on. We listen to the sounds of the rainforest, and then into Affection Section, the petting zoo. While there I listen to an orthodontist talk about the underbite on the llama, and how she could fix it. (In jest of course.)

Then we head back to the train station to return to Harambe and go on the safari. On the way back I get a second text from my daughter that she was actually being assigned to Flame Tree. We get on our safari truck and drive through.

When we exit the safari, my wife wants to head towards Chester & Hester's Dinoland where she can play a carnival game or two. On the way we pass Flame Tree and immediately spot my daughter standing at the head of the queue, available to help any guest with information or a look at the menu. We talk briefly and make up where and when to meet when she finishes work for the day. We arrive at Dinoland where my wife wins a dragon, and then head out of the park for our mid-afternoon reservation for tea at the Grand Floridian.

(Pictures from our day at Animal Kingdom can be seen here.)

After tea we head to Downtown Disney where we will meet our daughter. She is there when we arrive, and we proceed to the reason we have come here. Although my wife and I have ridden on Characters in Flight in the past, our daughter has not, and that is what we are here to do this evening. The light is fading as we ascend, making it difficult to take some of the pictures I want as it is not light enough anymore to take decent pictures of the theme parks which are visible from the air, and they have not yet put their lights on. However, the lights do come on in Downtown Disney. I do get a good shot of the Team Disney building, in which my daughter works.

(See the pictures from our trip on Characters in Flight by clicking here.)

We pick up my daughter's husband as this evening we will be doing something that we have never done before. The Gaylord Palms hotel, inspired by a Chinese ice sculpture festival has one of its own each year. The convention center is refrigerated to a chilly 10°F (-12°C) and The Gaylord Palms brings over a team of 40 artisans from Harbin, China. The talented artisans spend more than a month in Kissimmee/Orlando creating this one-of-a-kind attraction. Harbin is best known for its annual International Ice and Snow Festival, where more than 2,000 sculptors annually carve a 100-acre walk-through ice park, using ice from the nearby Songhua River.

This year the sculptures are from the TV special, Shrek The Halls. Everything in the display is created from blocks of ice, and has been on display since November! Aside from the character images, there are even 2 ice slides on which you can slide. Although I have come with my winter coat, they issue everyone a parker to deal with the cold inside of the display room. With all those people (and their body heat) going through, the carvings are amazingly intact, though close examination will reveal what 2 months of being on display has caused.

(Pictures of ICE! at the Gaylord Palms can be seen here.)

Dinner caps off the day and then we prepare for New Years Eve day ... our final full day here.